ALBURNETT – A punch to the face was answered by a series of knockout blows.
Wilton delivered a shot to top-ranked Alburnett, but it didn’t take long to respond.
After falling behind 8-0 and trailing in a third match, the Pirates rebounded with five straight wins and seven of the next eight for a 50-23 win over the Beavers in an Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 1A regional dual. The victory secured Alburnett’s third straight State Duals berth.
“They hit us and we hit them back,” Alburnett senior Colton Martin said. “That’s what we are going to do.
“We kind of train for it. We like those good matches.”
The early deficit and adversity in competition doesn’t faze this group of Pirates. They continue to battle despite falling behind, winning most and limiting bonus points in others. The challenges from teammates prepare them for this situation.
“Guys kept pushing through that,” Alburnett coach Kane Thompson said. “It’s a testament to the way they wrestle in that room and their practice partners.”
Alburnett Connor Shulista reversed the momentum that opened with Wilton. The top-ranked 132-pounder trailed No. 6 Logan Mays, 4-1, after the first and cut the lead to 4-3 in the second. Shulista sparked the Pirates and their crowd, hitting a headlock and recording a fall in 3:51.
“I do that quite a bit,” Shulista said. “If it’s there, that’s my go-to move. I hit it right away.”
Once he had Mays on his back, he was determined to finish the match. He was aware of what was at stake.
“I was looking for that pin to get everybody motivated,” Shulista said. “We knew it was going to be tight. We had to get going a little bit.”
It was the first of seven Pirate pins, but Colton Martin’s technical fall at 138 gave Alburnett a lead it didn’t surrender. Martin scored seven takedowns and six nearfall points for a 22-7 win over Zach Keppy.
Even Martin trailed, giving up an opening takedown. He echoed Thompson’s sentiments about practice conditioning the Pirates to fight to the end.
“Every practice you are in a battle with someone,” Martin said. “You can’t run from a good practice partner. We’re solid from 106 to the top. You get taken down, get turned and learn how to fight, really.”
Bruce Paul (145), second-ranked 160-pounder Grant Henderson and No. 2 Dylan Windfield followed with three straight pins, increasing the Pirate lead to 29-8. Austin Hoyle and Robbie Carrothers helped Alburnett pull away with pins at 182 and 195.
Hunter Washburn capped the dual with a fall at 113.
“You got to put kids down,” Henderson said. “You have to do what you have to do and get off the mat.”
Top-ranked Zach Fowler added a decision at 106 for Alburnett (29-1), which faces West Marshall (22-7) 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, in the opening round of the State Duals at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Both teams cruised into the final. Alburnett won all but one weight for a 70-6 victory over Iowa City Regina. Wilton built a 44-0 lead, forfeiting the last five weights for a 44-30 win over Lisbon.
Alburnett 70, Iowa City Regina 6
Wilton 44, Lisbon 30
Alburnett 50, Wilton 23
ALBURNETT 50, WILTON 23
120 pounds - Brady Ruden (W) dec. Jordan Henderson, 17-14; 126 - Zeke Smith (W) tech. fall Jacob Koch, 15-0; 132 - Connor Shulista (A) pinned Logan Mays, 3:51; 138 – Colton Martin (A) tech. fall Zach Keppy, 22-7; 145 – Bryce Paul (A) pinned Rich Janney, 3:32; 152 – Grant Henderson (A) pinned Kaleb Schmidt, 1:37; 160 – Dylan Windfield (A) pinned Gaige Hilty, :55; 170 – Koy Snider (W) dec. Zach Hoyle, 22-17; 182 – Austin Hoyle (A) pinned Luke Jipp, 2:59; 195 – Robbie Carrothers (A) pinned Tanner Gandia, 1:41; 220 – Logan Reddick (W) pinned Brandon Huff, :42; 285 – Jacob Giese (W) pinned D.J. Kohl, 1:07; 106 – Zach Fowler (A) dec. Tanner Greenwald, 8-4; 113 – Hunter Washburn (A) pinned Owen Anderson, 3:19.